UMS Concert Program, December 8, 1966: The New York Pro Musica Production Of The Play Of Daniel -- Noah Greenberg
Complete Series: 3542
Ann Arbor, Michigan
1966 Eighty-eighth Season 1967
UNIVERSITY MUSICAL SOCIETY
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Charles A. Sink, President Gail W. Rector, Executive Director Lester McCoy, Conductor
Complete Series 3542
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A Twelfth Century Musical Drama Production conceived by Noah Greenberg
Thursday Evening, December 8, 1966, at 8:30
First Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, Michigan
ARS LONGA VITA BREVIS
Cast of Characters (in order of appearance)
Belshazzar's Prince........Earnest Murphy
Wise Men........David Forssen, Neil Raber
Courtiers......Robert Kuehn, Rodney Stenborg
Belshazzar's Queen........Sheila Schonbrun
Queen's Attendant........Elizabeth Humes
Advisors.......David Forssen, Robert Kuehn
Legates........Neil Raber, Rodney Stenborg
Envious Counselors . . . Elizabeth Humes, Earnest Murphy
An Angel...........Kevin Leftwich
Satraps, Soldiers . . Ronald Biegel, Roy Cortez, Paul Dwyer,
David Johnson, Kevin Leftwich, Jeffrey O'Brien,
Cameron Thompson, Kimberly Thompson
Porters, Soldiers, Lions......Tom Ellis, Jim Stark
Herald Angel.........Sheila Schonbrun
Straight Trumpet........Robert Sirinek
Bell Carillon, Portative Organ.....Edward Smith
Percussion Instruments are played by the various members of the cast. They include triangle, small and large drums, tambourine, small cym?bals, finger cymbals, handbells, and jingles.
The Boys Choir is from the Church of the Transfiguration, New York City ("The Little Church Around the Corner"), Stuart Gardner, choirmaster.
Verse-narration by W. H. Auden The Play of Daniel is published by Oxford University Press and recorded by Decca Records
The performatice time is 75 minutes, without intermission.
In 1958 New York Pro Musica presented The Play of Daniel in the Romanesque Hall of The Cloisters. These were the first performances since medieval times in which the entire Play had been presented in its original dramatic form. The unique source is a thirteenth century manuscript in the British Museum. The work of the students of the Cathedral of Beauvais, The Play of Daniel was performed by tradition annually between 1150 and 1250 at the New Year.
It is based on familiar episodes from the Book of Daniel in the Vulgate, including: the feast of Belshazzar, the miraculous handwriting on the wall, the Queen's counsel to summon Daniel, Daniel's interpretation of the handwriting and the reward for his prophecy, the return of the holy vessels to the temple, Belshazzar's overthrow by Darius, Daniel's elevation as counselor to Darius, the envious plot against Daniel, his descent into the lions' den where the beasts are stayed by an angel, the bringing of food by the prophet Habakkuk, Daniel's deliverance from the lions, and, lastly, his prophecy of the coming of Christ.
Plays on Old Testament subjects were rare in the Middle Ages, since the drama grew out of liturgical texts which were based on the major events in the life of Christ. The Play of Daniel itself, concerned with one of the great prophets of the coming of the Messiah, probably developed from a particular reading in the night office of Christmas which in turn had been derived from a sixth-century sermon. The play was composed at a time when the subtleties of music, text, and symbol had reached their peak in liturgical drama, and the dramatic aspect had become independent of the liturgical content, asserting itself as a unity of its own. This play marks a turning point, and shows great dramatic advance in its delinea?tion of character and its expressivity. Only the chanting of the Gregorian Te Deum at the end betrays it as part of a devotional service.
The Play of Daniel was a great favorite, with a highly successful mixture of pagan and religious elements. It provided many occasions for the splendor and display of one of the popular new devices of the time, the conductus or courtly procession. The figure of the queen, of not too much importance in the Biblical narrative, was easily enlarged, and the text clearly indicates a great array of costumes, banners, sacred vessels, and musical instruments--all the effects of pageantry. But it is the music itself that ensured the play's popularity, and in the tunefulness of its melodies and piquancy of its rhythms we come perhaps as close as we ever shall to medieval "folk song."
Rt. Rev. Rembert Weakland, O.S.B.
New York Pro Musica is indebted to Miss Margaret B. Freeman and Professor Meyer Shapiro for their artistic advice, to Dr. Edmund A. Bowles for his assistance and ideas concerning the use of instruments in liturgical drama of the twelfth century, and to Dr. Jean S. Misrahi for his help with the pronunciation of the French and Latin text. It is also grateful to Professors Gustave Reese and Oliver Strunk and to Dr. William L. Smoldon for their suggestions and encouragement in the course of putting together the score of The Play of Daniel. The seven-branched brass candelabrum is lent by the Jewish Museum of the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the holy vessels are on loan from the Medieval department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
New York Pro Musica has presented its production of The Play of Daniel in New York every year since 19S8. During the summer of 1960 the play was taken to Europe for a tour of 37 performances in ancient cathedrals and shrines including Westminster Abbey, London; Wells Cathedral, Bath; Oxford, St. Albans, and King's Lynn; St. Germain des Pres Chapel, Paris; Royaumont Abbey; Santa Trinita, Florence; Basilica de Sant'Eufemia, Spoleto. The production has also played in the Washington (D.C.) Cathedral and in the Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago. A taped performance was shown over the National Educational Television network on Christmas eve, 1965.
Artistic Director..............Lincoln Kirstein
Musical Director...............John White
Editors.......Noah Greenberg, Rt. Rev. Rembert Weakland, O.S.B.
Musicological Research........Rt. Rev. Rembert Weakland, O.S.B.
Stage Director.............Nikos Psacharopoulos
Production Manager.............George Mallonee
Technical Director.............John Sundstrom
Costume Supervisor.............Marina Welmers
Stage Production Associate.............Tom Ellis
Production Assistant..............Keith Olsen
Costumes executed by Eaves Costume Co.